I regularly watch the Science Friday video podcast. This week they had an interesting piece on potamology (OK, I just learned that word and wanted to use it in my post: potamology is the scientific study of rivers). The podcast showcased the work Christian Braudrick and Bill Dietrich of University of California, Berkeley, who achieved…

# Month: November 2009

## Legendre who?

In Chapter 10 of my book, Euler’s Gem, I give Adrien-Marie Legendre‘s beautiful proof of Euler’s polyhedron formula: for any (convex) polyhedron with V vertices, E edges, and F faces, V-E+F=2. His use of spherical geometry to prove the theorem is extremely elegant. On page 88 I include the portrait of Legendre shown at right….

## Math in literature

I’ve been reading some classic literature lately and was interested to see mathematics show up two of these works. Last week I read Voltaire’s Candide (1759). One of the main characters is the ridiculous Dr. Pangloss, who subscribes to Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism (or Voltaire’s take on optimism). Leibniz believed in a good and omnipotent…